We talk about nap time and bed time all the time, it’s pretty much every parent’s main conversation. I know many of us count on that mid-day nap to get things done around the house and an early bedtime to finish what we didn’t get to earlier on in the day and, get too hung up on a schedule — myself included. I thrive on schedules, routines and discipline. I can move with the flow on many things, but when it comes to nap time and bedtime I tend to stick with the schedule.
I have been meaning to write on this topic for a while now, but things have changed a lot as of recently so I am sharing what has always worked for us when it comes to nap time and bedtime. Almost a year ago all three would nap at the same time and go to bed at the same time and I would share them sleeping on Instagram stories and so many of you would send me messages asking how I get them to nap together. How do I get them to take a nap at the same time?So, today I am sharing that aspect and if you are someone wanting your children to sleep at the same time so you can have a little bit of “me time”, continue reading.
For us, it was one nap a day, usually around 12 and at that time I had one and a half year old, three year old and a five year old. Then our oldest started Kindergarten which was a full day for him, and there was no nap time. About two weeks before school started we slowly removed nap time for him so he can get used to it for school. We kept the younger two on a nap schedule still.
How we made nap time work for us?
The reason nap time always worked for so well is because we would usually spend the morning at the park or the library, and they would be so tired by lunch time that I didn’t have to fight with them on nap time. We’d eat lunch and then they would fall asleep really quickly after that. They would nap for about an hour and a half or so and it would be time to pick up big brother from school. then come home for lunch and nap, and after the nap it was usually time to pick up the oldest from school. So our days went on like this for a while, until the quarantine.
Before V went to Kindergarten, all three would nap at the same time for about an hour and a half or two hours and then when they wake up we would usually go for a wall or the park again. I would not let them take super long naps so that it doesn’t interfere with their bed time. Bed time during school was 7:30pm.
Why I swapped nap time for quiet time for our four and six year old?
Then, things got way different in March. Now, the oldest was home doing e-learning, not taking a nap while the other two continued to take their nap but it was a struggle to get my four year old to take a nap. It was a struggle because we had zero activities. We went from be out and about, getting tired to pretty much being home all day. He didn’t fight going to bed for nap time but he would be laying there for an hour sometimes more and not being able to fall asleep. Then when he would fall asleep, he would want to sleep until 3/4 and that didn’t work because bed time was at 730 still. I decided to trade in the boys nap time for some quiet/independent play time instead. This way they still get some quiet time to relax and can recharge a bit. Anastasija continued to take her mid day naps as she had just turned two and would get tired by noon, if not earlier.
Now, we have baby Aleksandra with us who is two months, Anastasija who is 2.5 years old, Mateja who is four years old and Vasilije who is six years old. There is no schedule for the baby just yet, she sleeps whenever she wants. Anastasija has a mid-day nap at noon and the boys get to play quietly during this time.
Nap time is important for development
Remember that nap time is very important for a child’s brain development, as it also helps them recharge for the remainder of the day. I encourage all parents to keep their child’s nap time as long as possible. They don’t have to be long naps, an hour and a half is good enough for them to recharge if you’re worried it may compromise their bed time.
The benefits of nap time:
1. Children grow and develop when they sleep; not just their brain but their bodies too.
2. Children thrive after nap time and are likely to have less tantrums, be fussy or whiny when they have taken a mid-day nap.
3. Children sleep better at night when they have a nap during the day, as long as you don’t let them sleep for hours. Two hour naps always worked really well for us.
Naps work much better when you stick to a routine, staying consistent with naps being around noon, about two hours and always doing same when it’s time to go down for a nap. We would pull down our blinds, put on pajamas and get tucked in. These little things signified nap time for them. You can do whatever works for your little family. When they are little the best way they learn is if you continuously do the same thing, like when my two and a half year old is ready for nap time, because she loves her milk that always signifies that it’s nap time.
How to make nap time work for you
When everyone wakes up at the same time in the morning, for us that was 6AM during school time, have breakfast together then go on with your day, it is easier to get everyone to nap at the same time, which for us was usually around noon.
1. Stay consistent with your nap schedule
This not only helps create healthy sleeping patterns for your baby but also makes them get the best rest. We did nap time at the same time every day so they would get used to it. And if they are in big kid beds like ours were, there is a chance they may walk out of the room, in that case you want to take a seat next to the door outside of the room and be ready to turn them around back to bed. I did this for each kid for nap time and bedtime for about a week or so every day until they stopped coming out. Again, staying consistent is the key.
2. Stick to a nap time routine
Sticking to a nap time routine helps your child understand the concept of nap time. If it’s always at/around noon they will slowly understand the idea and it will be easier to go down. For example, my daughter always has milk before her nap time and still has her blankie+pacifier, so she slowly started to associate that with nap time and would go without a problem. Also, doing nap time at about the same time at the same place every day helps them understand better, and grasp the idea of nap time. When they get to nap anywhere anytime most days then it’s hard to have them nap when you want them where you want them. They (almost) always nap at their bed at around noon. Of course, this is if you are home and want to incorporate nap time for your child. We are not always home either, and nap time gets thrown out sometimes because life, and we go on adventures, etc., but while at home we have established our routine so well that it doesn’t get affected much.
3. Don’t give up on nap time
This may go hand in hand with being consistent, but don’t give up on nap time just because they refuse it a few times. Nap time is important for children, it helps them grow and develop. They may have their “off” days when they simply refuse nap time, and in those cases try to reestablish your nap time routine, making the room more ambient for sleep, talk about getting tucked in and what you will do after and when all else fails keep returning them back to their bed. When my oldest was about five he would tell me that he doesn’t know how to fall asleep, that he simply cannot and I would tell him that it is okay, that he doesn’t need to fall asleep but he still needs to have quiet time to relax. 9/10 times he would fall asleep having ‘quiet time’. So, don’t give up.
And, sometimes we would skip a nap here and there because we went on an adventure, things come up, we had appointments, etc., and that’s all okay. You cannot make everything perfect especially with more children involved.
Do you think naps are important for babies, toddlers, big kids? Do you have a nap time schedule?